Mike Southern Gets Ruthless With My Putting-Why Accelerating Your Putter Is a Bad Idea

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , | Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2011

Recently, Mike Southern has been giving me some advice on how to get more height on my tee shot with my driver. I want to get more distance with my driver so that I can be in a position to use my shorter irons into the green. My green in regulation percentage is currently a dismal 12.99. This makes it hard to score well, as I am always having to get up and down to save par.

In order to address this problem, Mike asked me to keep some notes during my next round of golf. He told me to

"...scribble notes on your scorecard when you hit a bad shot. Note what happened -- long, short, left, right, or any combination of them -- and how you felt -- you fell forward, pushed the shot, whatever. Do that for each approach shot, then we'll look for patterns.

Once we know the pattern, we'll know what the problem is and how to address it."

As I was looking at my stats on stracka.com, I realized that I had another major problem which led to this conversation.

So I was just looking at my stats. I keep them at stracka.com. My GIR percentage is 12.99. But here's something that is interesting. My overall putts per hole is 1.89. When I get to the green in regulation though, it goes up to 2.25. So it looks like I have to work on my putting as well.

I detected one of the problems. Most of the greens I hit in regulation are on the par 3's. During my last round at Dove Valley, I hit 3 out 4 of the par 3's in regulation. The 3 greens that I hit, I 3-putted each of them. This is where I am losing valuable strokes.

Mike came back with,

Let me guess... you've been listening to all that crap about "accelerating the putter through the ball."

That's a sure way to destroy both line and feel.

To which I responded,

Isn't that what all the pros say? "Accelerate through the ball and then hold the follow through."

Apparently I found one of Mike's pet peeves when it comes to the way putting is taught because he was prompted to write Why Accelerating Through The Ball Is A Bad Idea, which explained some of the misconceptions of using the words "accelerate through the ball".

Mike hit on three points which refutes the idea that accelerating through the ball is a good idea. They are...

1) The Relaxed Grip Conundrum
2) The Nature of Gravity
3) Driving a Tack

I encourage you to read this article. I cannot explain it the way Mike does and I don't want to just copy and paste the entire post. The way he lays it out makes sense. What I took away from it is that when I try to accelerate through the ball, I am fighting against what happens naturally according the Law of Inertia, Newton's First Law Of Motion.

Since I have been working with Mike, he has been trying to get me to understand that the golf swing is better understood and executed when I do the things that come naturally to me. As amateurs, we tend to fight against, or make things up with regards to making a golf swing, or in this case, a putting stroke. When we start to understand that the mechanics of a golf swing mimics everyday motions we do without thought, our golf game will improve tremendously.

Over the next few days I will be working on what Mike explained in his article. Hopefully I can make a few videos demonstrating what I am working on. That should be interesting to say the least, but I have to make the mistakes so that I know what I need to work on in order to get better. Have a great round and always hit your target.

*Bobby Jones' take on good putting technique. As Mike points out in his article, Jones never mentions the words, "accelerate through the ball."


Photo found here.

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Comments (3)

  1. April 28, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Yeah, it is a pet peeve with me, Dex. But it just bothers me that we make the golf swing in general so much more difficult than it has to be.

    Concepts like plane are useful ways of describing our swings, but golf isn't about concepts. It's a game we play for fun. Yet the majority of instruction focuses on concepts... and how well we adhere to those concepts. Lee Trevino won 6 majors, yet his golf swing is considered "bad" because it doesn't quite fit the accepted concepts. That's just plain stupid to me. Trevino may not have been "conceptually orthodox," but the man sure could play golf!

    Most of us learn to throw baseballs, shoot baskets, and make tennis strokes acceptably without anywhere near the claptrap we pile on our golf strokes. Is it any wonder so many people give up in frustration?

    Ok, rant over. Go back to your jobs, people -- nothing to see here. ;-)

  2. April 28, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    I understand what you're saying. A case in point would be former NBA All-Star Reggie Miller. He probably had one of the ugliest shots in the history of the game, but it was very effective. I would never tell any of my players to emulate his shooting style when I was coaching basketball, yet it worked for him. His shot "felt" right to him.

    My wife and I were walking our Great Dane the other day and took my basketball with me because we always walk past a basketball court. I hit 8 out of 10 free throws and I hadn't touched a basketball in over 3 years. I wasn't thinking about technique. I just remembered what it "felt" like to shoot the ball.

    I guess the same will happen for me with golf in due time. As I get more repetitions under my belt, I'm sure that I will remember the good shots and the "feeling" associated with that shot. Then I won't have to think about too much of the technical side.

  3. April 28, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    You can help the process along by practicing the right way, Dex. When you get the club in a position from which you make good shots, focus on what that position feels like. Make the move to the top slowly, paying attention to things like balance. Don't obsess over the mechanics of the swing itself, but find where your swing feels right to you. From that spot, the move down just feels right and the ball does what you intended.

    We don't call that "the sweet spot" for nothing. ;-)

    And when you can just play by that feel, and concentrate on where and how you want to hit the ball, you'll start to make big improvements. Remember this:

    Mechanics inform feel, but feel creates mechanics.